From 2015 to 2017, the US generated about 555 million tons of construction and demolition (C&D) debris per year. These numbers were more than twice the amount of municipal solid waste produced in the same period.
Frankly, that’s a whole lot of waste. Landfills were the primary destination for common materials such as wood, brick and clay tile, and asphalt shingles. Only a small percent was marked for “next use”.
It’s clear that construction companies have to put more thought into waste management. It’s not only about the environment, but it’s also about efficiency, sustainability, and avoiding legal issues.
The problem is that most construction companies don’t know where to start. Here are three ways to improve your C&D waste disposal and management.
1. Source Reduction Is the Highest Priority for C&D Waste Management
The EPA values source reduction as the primary strategy for effective C&D debris management. While recycling and reuse are important, source reduction prevents the generation of waste in the first place.
This responsibility lies in the hands of project managers. A plan for the efficient use of materials should be in place before construction even starts.
To limit the excess that could turn into waste, calculate the exact amount of construction materials accurately. Only order what you need.
Another waste reduction method is designing for sustainability and adaptability. Examples include building size optimization and employing construction methods that allow disassembly.
2. Reuse and Recycle
You’re always going to have construction waste, it’s unavoidable. Accounting for potential waste should be part of the planning stages.
Another job for project managers is to provide the construction site with reuse and recycle bins.
Construction materials that you thought were bound for the dumpster can be given new life. Store materials that are in good condition for reuse in another job. You don’t have to use the materials in your own project, you can also donate them to charity.
Know what type of materials can be recycled and sort them into different containers. There will always be a market for recyclables. Some of the materials that can go into a recycling bin include:
concrete, asphalt, and rubble can be turned into aggregate or new products
wood can become furniture, mulch, or compost
metals for smelting and fabrication include steel, copper, and brass
cardboard, paper, and plastics
For materials that can’t be reused or recycled, you’ll need an effective disposal method such as a grab lorry hire.
3. Deconstruction Instead of Demolition
Demolition accounts for 90% of total C&D waste production. That’s a staggering number but how is demolition different from deconstruction?
Both processes involve disassembling a building. However, demolition is focused on the speed of tearing down a building. Deconstruction is more selective and is done piece by piece.
In demolition, reusable materials get sent together with the waste straight to the landfill. In deconstruction, there’s a higher chance to salvage materials for reuse or recycling. As a bonus, you can opt to donate the recovered materials for a tax write-off.
Do Your Part
While you can’t avoid the generation of C&D debris, you can implement these waste management strategies to reduce your footprint. We should all do our part in keeping the environment safe for future generations to enjoy.
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